Rach Man Rocks!

Rach Man inspires me.  Seriously.


Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra.  

In the midst of my 11pm – 2am radio show, I found Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2..  I was absolutely awestruck.  Months later, home from college on the weekend, Mom gave me tickets for the symphony, that would perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.   Strange timing.  At some point  I read about Rachmaninoff’s depression.  In his letters he referenced his depression as the “black melancholy”, most prevalent between 1897 and 1900.  

* Note: I sometimes  refer to Sergei Rachmanioff as Rach Man.

Prior to Rach Man’s black melancholy kicking in, his 1st symphony … “Symphony No. 1” … was performed in March of 1897.  Here is a good description of the significance of Symphony No. 1, provided by Brent Woo from UCLA in one of his documented works:

The premiere of Symphony No. 1 on March 15/27, 1897, was a significant, (negative), turning point in Rachmaninoff’s career. No longer the wonder child of the Moscow Conservatory, he was mercilessly shot down by the critics after making his first steps as a Free Artist (a title conferred to graduates of the conservatory).”  Brent Woo from UCLA / http://www.international.ucla.edu/media/files/woo-journal.pdf

Sergei Rachmanioff, a younger man / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rachmaninoff_1900.jpg

My heart hurts for this young man, getting raked over the coals by critics.  For two and a half years after his performance (his first symphony) Rach Man did not compose a single new large work for his new project.  And it was about this time, in 1900 January, that Dr. Nikolai Dahl began meeting with Sergei every day using an approach called “Autosuggesative Therapy”.  *NOTE:  This had nothing to do with selling automobiles.  

Dr. Dahl and his friends encouraged, empowered, Rach Man to start writing again.  It is profound: Sergei Rachmanioff began writing one of the most powerful, most beautiful, classical pieces of all time … his Piano Concerto No. 2 … in his three-year battle with depression.  One thought is that Rach Man’s courageous choice to start writing again, in spite of his own doubts and his own woundedness, played an unfathomably important role in his healing from the black melancholy.  

I am intensely drawn to this part of Rach Man’s story for several reasons:

  • my own personal experience,
  • the privilege of walking with clients for the last 17 years and experiencing their healing,
  • what I have learned from friends and other bloggers,
  • my own reading and research,
  • and the positive power of healthy community.  

Some of us find ourselves in different places, intensely challenging, thick with anguish. Whether it be “the dark night of the soul”, or the desert, or a hellish place,  or isolated – alienated – desolated – negated, when we are there, we wonder if we will ever get out.

The “aloneness” is unavoidable, even when friends are around.  One cannot escape the reality that “you are”, or “we are”, or “I am”, “going through it”.  But at times, certain people can help us.  But those certain people have to be the right people, at the right time, and they need to be able to help in the right way.  And we may not know, at the time what that right way is.  My hope is that this post successfully emphasizes the power of community; the power of music; the power of getting back into that which we are called; and the power of our own fortitude and vision and commitment … to do our own work in the healing process.

Sergei Rachmanioff Piano Concerto No. 2 / http://imslp.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_No.2,_Op.18_(Rachmaninoff,_Sergei)





americans kick off the week with a day off. some of us.

This is good. So is her blog.

I didn't have my glasses on....


here’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever read about our 10th president:

john tyler was born in 1790.

he took office in 1841, after william henry harrison died.

and he has two living grandchildren.

not great-great-great-grandchildren.

their dad was tyler’s son.


the tyler men have a habit of having kids very late in life.

lyon gardiner tyler, one of president tyler’s 15 kids, was born in 1853.

he fathered lyon gardiner tyler jr. in 1924, and harrison ruffin tyler in 1928.

harrison tyler has been interviewed in the last few years for new york magazine.

lyon tyler spoke to the daughters of the american revolution a while back.

it’s all in the math.

his living legacy continues.


credits: j.english, mentalflossmagazine, google images

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Disorientation, or Foolishness, for Fun

Complex …

our world is, eh?  Sometimes, a tad bit too serious.  We need … something … that is way outside the box that is not going to be harmful, but helpful, to bring a measure of humor.  I found this piece on YouTube, the TED talks: truly, a different piece of humor, medicinal foolishness, and an undeniable ingredient of brilliance.  I hope you enjoy.  This gentleman, Reggie Watts, opens up with a series of words and sentences in Spanish; he switches over to French; he then switches over to English with a British accent … and, well, I do believe it is worth watching.  At the very least, it is a reminder to smile, and to see that the world we live in will always have a mystery of nonsense.




A “Rest” Encounter:

During a recent couple of days of life on the planet, I encountered something that changed my thinking; an encounter with rest.  I’m a man who has spent very little time in the hospital.  The first time was when I was born, and I remember very little about it.


Since then there have been three hospital incidents: an eighth-grade surgery on a toe; a false alarm for a heart attack, 2000; and then this week’s incident, a lower right abdomen surgery.  This was a “routine surgery”, one that would happen in about an hour, with another hour in “post-op”, followed by my departure for home – – – to the Other Side of the Trees.  The surgery was a success, with no hiccups / complications.  In the post-op stage of the game, however, I was not getting enough oxygen.  The moment  I drifted off into a bit of sleep, the alarm in the machine (attached to a little white sensor clipped to my finger) sounded off, indicating I was not getting enough oxygen.    For the next four hours, a nurse monitored the percentage of oxygen I was inhaling.  Every three minutes, the nurse’s kind but concerned, voice startled me out of sleep: “Breathe, T, breathe.  You have to breathe.”  I breathed the best I could for a couple of minutes, drifted off. and startled again out of my sleep, being told to breathe.  This went on for about four hours. When I entered a sleep mode, even to a shallow degree, it showed that I was hardly breathing at all.  The medical staff then came to a conclusion that I would stay overnight at their non-resort hospital.  Then came the”blur” …


of being rolled on a gurney to a room somewhere in the hospital maze, mysteriously moved from gurney to bed, and connected to this machine and that machine. There were some gadgets, like the one that makes the bed go upwards, and downwards, a TV remote (which I never turned on until four in the morning because I could not sleep), a pad with a series of buttons including a call to the nurses’ club (I rarely used).  What I have walked away with, from this experience, is that even in those small stretches of pain (because I couldn’t reach the nurse to bring me the periodic PRN med for  the post-surgery pain), there was a continual enigma of rest.  

Enigma of Rest

Confined to a bed, fairly far from home; no chores to resolve, no kids to track with, no logistical / problem-solving discussions with my wife.  There were no visitors other than quick appearances from nurses and care attendants (one visitor came a couple of hours prior to discharge)  Boredom darted in and out.  But a stronger flow of peace … a most different peace … resonated in the room, in my heart and soul.  Anxiety showed up once or twice, quickly faded, unexplainably.  This encounter of rest was an excellent example of ambivalence: (my paraphrased definition) the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions / thoughts at the same time.  I experienced disruption because of my limited movement and control; I experienced rest, placed in a situation where I drifted in and out of sleep, and accomplished virtually nothing.  Actual rest can happen, even when it is not pleasant.  And to think that the catalyst for all this was my lack of breathing.  Do I get so busy, in life, that I forget to breathe?